Student achievement gap widens
African-American students are falling farther behind their peers at state universities, new data on graduation rates suggest. According to the state university system in Maryland, 40 per cent of black students get a degree within six years of enrolling, compared with 65 per cent of all students. This mismatch is part of a worsening trend, with the 25-point gap significantly worse than three years ago when it was just 15 percentage points. William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the university system, told the Baltimore Sun that the decline in retention and graduation rates was "very troubling". The newspaper said the worst-performing universities were those that have traditionally recruited African-American students, while many "traditionally white" institutions that now enrolled significant numbers of black students had closed the achievement gap.
Defence university to be set up
Indonesia is to set up a national "defence university", emulating similar institutions that have been established in Singapore and Malaysia in recent years. Susilo Bambang Yudhovono, the president of Indonesia, said the institution would aim primarily to train military officers, but would also admit some civilian students. In a speech reported in the Jakarta Post, he said the Indonesian Defence University would focus on topics such as the evolution of modern warfare, military technology and defence economics. Singapore set up a defence university in 2005, and Malaysia followed suit in 2007.
Institutions to combine
Two Finnish universities are to merge, forming a new University of Eastern Finland. The University of Joensuu and the University of Kuopio will merge next year, forming a new "international and multidisciplinary university" with the aim of establishing a place among the country's elite institutions. As well as the two campuses acquired from Joensuu and Kuopio, the University of Eastern Finland is expected to have a third campus in Savonlinna. Restructuring will result in 13 faculties being amalgamated into four.
Private funding rebuff criticised
Business leaders in India have criticised government opposition to the opening-up of higher education to private investment. The National Knowledge Commission, which was set up by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, recommended new measures to attract outside investment, including from abroad. But the idea has been rejected by educational bodies, prompting the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry to voice "strong reservations" about the official stance. The federation raised concerns that recent advances made by bodies such as the Indian School of Business could stall without public-private partnerships to promote global academic standards, the Financial Times said.
Funds for indirect research costs
Researchers in Australia have been buoyed by a government commitment to fully fund the indirect costs of research. Alan Robson, vice-chancellor of the University of Western Australia, said the move was "long overdue" and would bring the sector back into line with international competitors. The pledge was made by Kim Carr, the minister responsible for research, and raises the prospect of extra money for the sector in spite of the economic downturn, The Australian reported. However, it also came with a tongue-lashing from the minister, who said that current levels of collaboration between universities and industry were unacceptably low.
Statue attire redressed
A New York university has had to take down a statue of one of its star athletes to correct historical inaccuracies. The statue of American football player Ernie Davis, a former running back for Syracuse University, depicted him with a modern football and helmet and Nike trousers, even though he died in 1963, a decade before the sportswear company was founded. The university was forced to have the statue reworked, and a new version had now been reinstalled, the Post-Standard reported.